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Indian agriculture adopts corporate hiring techniques
Lipi Agrawal | HRKatha | New Delhi | Tuesday, 27 December 2016

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The Indian agri-sector is fast adopting corporate business practices; the talent needs of the industry are also evolving.

Paint the picture of an Indian village in your mind. It’s definitely not stereo-typical anymore. Rural homes have adopted modern lifestyle and are laden with basic appliances and gadgets. Not just lifestyle, the way rural India works and does business has also seen a major shift.

Agriculture – the backbone of rural economy – has had a facelift from using modern farming techniques and equipment, to its business transactions.

It is estimated that by 2021, the Indian agricultural industry will reach Rs 36 lakh crore growing at a CAGR of 8 per cent. To grow at this pace, the sector needs to adapt many corporate business practices and also infuse fresh-minds and professional talent.

Opportunities have already opened up in areas such as soil management, productivity improvement, water management and post-harvest management to advisory services. Premier agribusiness management institutes impart specialised courses in agriculture along with management skills.

Technological advancements have impacted this industry as well. Digital acumen, big data management, customer connect, dealing with ambiguity, and disruptive innovation are some of the new skill sets, which professionals aspiring to work in this industry will need to acquire soon.

The economy of scale is driving the agriculture industry towards a more organised and formal setup – from being an individual farmer-led, it’s shifting to a formal corporate structure.

Digital acumen, big data management, customer connect, dealing with ambiguity, and disruptive innovation are some of the new skill sets, which professionals aspiring to work in this industry will need to acquire soon.

In fact, many Indian businesses have seen an opportunity in this sector and business practices, such as customer management, demand forecasting, supply chain management, and even digital marketing are making way into the agricultural business.

Many young entrepreneurs and start-ups are increasingly coming up with path-breaking ideas, and challenging the traditional way of operating in this sector.

Mahindra Agri Solutions, founded in 2016, has invested in one such start-up MeraKisan, which ensures benefits both to the farmer and the consumer by removing the middleman. The company also provides advisory services to the farmers and has successfully piloted an agriculture advisory app – MyAgriGuru – in two districts.

The company looks at two prime competencies while hiring talent — expertise in the agricultural domain; and an entrepreneurial mindset to think big, collaborate, and take ownership.

Ashok Sharma

Ashok Sharma, managing director, Mahindra Agri Solutions, says, “We require people with strong agronomy knowledge, an understanding of the global supply chain and logistics management, digital management in agri, and expertise in fruit cultivation. We have designed a detailed recruitment programme and our managers have been trained to conduct interviews that assess people on all of the required skills.”

The company recently launched its ‘I’m Agripreneur’ contest which intends to provide a platform to students to ideate and present solutions to different live agri-business challenges.

The employees are trained through various interventions to further develop on these skills. Sharma shares how employees at Mahindra Agri Solutions work as ‘agripreneurs’ striving to positively impact the lives of farmers.

The company has various structured capability-building interventions for people at different levels. “For instance, we have an Accelerated Leadership Growth (ALG) programme to build our 10X leaders, ACE for building a future talent pipeline and also functional as well as agronomy trainings across the organisation,” he adds.

“However, professionals need to keep upskilling themselves and be innovative to grow in the organisation,” he concludes.

© 2016 HR Katha

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